The 48-year-old four-time tennis Grand Slam winner and former world No. 1 is ready to have a ball as a commentator for the Australian Open (airing from Mon., Jan. 14 on Nine).
Coverage of the Australian Open has moved from Channel Seven to Nine. Will it be different?
You will hear different voices and philosophies. But the same big players will be playing the same style of tennis we’ve always seen.
Who is the best player you’ve seen?
The player I’ve enjoyed watching the most is Roger Federer, because he makes it look so easy and effortless, and there is a ballet aspect to the way he moves.
There is a graceful silence to it.
What about the toughest player you ever faced?
Pete Sampras was the toughest for all of us in the ’90s. He was the best player of that generation. He was a handful to deal with – great serve, huge forehand and just a great athlete. Pete and I turned pro on the same day. I was 17 and he was 16.
What can you tell us about Pete that we may not know?
Do you know he’s a great golfer? He’s also an active poker player. He gets in some poker games in LA. Pete and I are like people who went to college together who have a shared experience that is very hard to replicate.
What’s it really like in the locker room?
One you’re established on the tour, it’s not tense at all. It’s very cordial and fun, actually. It’s a bit of a fraternity, even though we’re out there to take each other’s lunch money.
You played drums on stage with R.E.M. when they toured Australia back in 1995. They were friends of yours, right?
Still friends of mine. I’ve been lucky – most of my friends are long-time friends. I went on a golf trip with [R.E.M.’s] Mike Mills two months ago.